Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tales From The Bonus Round: The Package Pt. 2

TALES FROM THE BONUS ROUND
L.A. MAY 1996

Previous entry: The Package Pt. 1

The knock on the door seems so dramatic in retrospect
But he barely mentioned it in his diary
The Crixivan was just another drug
In a long line of drugs

Another punishment
In a long line of punishments

Instead, he wrote about his friends

A woman he nursed after she got too drunk at the ASCAP Awards

And the strangers
Who were slowly discovering him
And each other
On this new thing: The Internet

About "Bro. Jerry,"
A minister who used his lyrics
Going It Alone
In a sermon
Because a parishioner's son had died of AIDS

A sermon?

It had been years since he had even been inside a church
He thought of himself as the
Worst of the Worst kind of human being
Ashamed and angry and pissed off at churches

Why would a minister use the writings
Of a queer dying of AIDS?
In the pulpit

About meeting, online,
A 20-year old straight boy with AIDS
Named Shawn Decker
The Positoid

He wrote about his ears
Now painfully blocked up

About strangers whose lovers were dying

Locally, his music and his diary were being discovered
LA legend, Al Martinez in the LA Times
Before running it, he mentioned the song
CONNECTED
"Are you SURE that was Anson Williams [Potsie]
In the Waiting Room?"

(Later, he would make a primitive video
where he unsuccessfully tries to lip sync.)

It was almost in passing,
That he mentioned the package arriving
The FedEx knock at the dorr
He had almost forgotten about it because
Of mix-ups in the paperwork

Crixivan arrived May 22, 1996

He simply wrote that he had to take it on an empty stomach
And another drug on a full stomach
"..if I take the Crixivan at 6, 2, and 10, then I'd have to eat (and take the Saquinavir) at 7, 3 and 11. LUNCH AT 3? Dinner at 11? But I suppose I could eat lunch at 12, take a snack at 3 with the Saquinavir, dinner at 7, Crixivan at 10, and eat a snack with the Saquinavir at 11..."
But would any of it work?
Nothing had, so far
But he was determined to work it
He was a happily compliant patient

Meanwhile, he was wasting away
Nobody wanted to say it out loud
But he was dying

His doctor decided to put him on TPN
Total Parenteral Nutrition

He was being tortured by a daily friend
The Thing That's Killing Me
(complete with link)
Because his digestive system had just stopped working

He was wearing diapers

TPN, someone said,
Is what they give people just before they die
To give them a few weeks
To say goodbye to friends and relatives

A PICC line insertion into his veins
Which terrified him
Needles!
Nutrition infused directly into his blood

Meanwhile, the would-be producers of his musical
Are demanding rewrites to the score
Jim was starting on his fourth draft of the book
And they still had no theater and no money

Finally, the PICC line was inserted into his arm
A tube ran up his vein to his heart
He was ready to be fed

Then, a foul-up in his health insurance
He had the line in his arm
But no way to get the food

So, he drove to the agency and,
Sick as a dog, was herded
From one window to the next
Until someone gave him a phone number
"Another phone number?"

His arm throbbed.
His ears were blocked.
His stomach hurt.
His diaper felt moist.
The pay phone didn't work.

He desperately raced home
On the phone, paged through the system
Until he found a human voice
A woman
A voice that actually helped him
He fell in love with her
The nutrition would arrive the next day

Exhausted, his newly-ported arm throbbing,
He laid down to sleep
"I had this really weird dream last night, too. The weirdest I've had in a long time. Some dictator had taken over and we knew him and he wanted something from us. But I didn't have any AIDS meds left so I got sicker and started dying. The weird part is that I smiled at the thought that I'd thwart his plans by dying. I was triumphing in death."
It was his and Jim's 11th anniversary



NEXT: Things start to change. Plus, a little accident in front of Tim Curry.
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